I was reading an article in the Australian Financial Review recently about Ryan Stokes, the son of billionaire Kerry Stokes, and his plans as managing director for Seven West Media.
Bring back death duties for silver spooners
It caused me to further reflect on three of his contemporaries, James Packer, Stephen Lowey and Lachlan Murdoch.
These are four men with very talented fathers who amassed significant wealth.
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These are also four men born with very large silver spoons in their mouths -- given, by virtue of their fathers' wealth, opportunities that very few can ever hope for.
To me, they seem to be four men who are yet to prove that they have the skills, aptitude or work ethic required to take full advantage of the enormous wealth they have, or will, inherit.
There is nothing special about these four private school boys, other than having the good fortune to be born into wealth. They were just lucky enough to have won the lottery of the womb.
These are not men I can muster any respect for. They have done nothing to earn their status, either. No matter what happens to them in the future, they are just plain lucky.
Most importantly -- given they have attended the best schools, travelled the world, made invaluable s and lived like royalty during the lifetimes of their parents -- I can see no reason why they should simply inherit all of the wealth of their parents.
I believe that people are entitled to what they have worked for, not what others have worked for.
I think we can level the playing field a little and give the disadvantaged a bit of a leg up by redistributing the wealth their parents have made, once those parents are no more.
I don't believe that wealthy dynasties are fair or equitable -- and I'm certain that the only people they serve are the lucky offspring of wealthy parents.
I believe that every dollar over $10 million that a person leaves at death should be taxed at the current company tax rate of 33 percent -- and that all assets should be taken into account in the valuation.
This valuation should also take into account all overseas assets and all assets, not commercially transferred to others, but now in the ownership of others.
To those who will suggest this is socialist, you can call it what you like, but I call it equity.
To those who suggest this is unjust, we all know who you will be. Again, I call equity.
There are even those who will say this is politically difficult to do. To you, I say that equity is always difficult to achieve.
Some, of course, will say it won't work, but people with vested interests always will say that. However, in the interests of equity, I'm sure we can make it work.
These four men and many like them have done nothing to earn their inherited wealth. They certainly haven't done anything that makes them more deserving than millions of other men and women like them.
They have benefitted during the lifetimes of their wealthy fathers and that, if they have any self-respect, should be enough.
In my experience, men and women like these four are probably less deserving than many other people because, unlike their fathers who struggled to accumulate wealth, they did not.
Warren Buffet, now the world's second-wealthiest man, gave his children the benefit of his wealth as they grew up. But like Bill Gates, he is giving it all away to charity upon his death.
If they had any decency, so would Kerry Stokes, Rupert Murdoch and Frank Lowey, although Kerry Packer would find it difficult since he's already dead. But it would seem that these men have no such decency, and there's no evidence that their privileged offspring will, either.
In the absence of such decency, I say bring back death duties.